The 2017s went 3-0 at the Terp Classic, handling Maryland RoughRiders, MadLax Orange and Blackwolf to get things kicked off the right way. Things also went well from an individual standpoint as a couple of players took the opportunity to show off their skills. Watch Colby Smith (Hempfield) , Tommy Sopko (Conestoga) and Connor Ringwalt (Episcopal Academy) at work in this week's NXT Highlight of the Week.
Billy Kinnard doesn’t shy away from detailing his struggles, but it’s been a dream couple of days for him.
The NXT 2014 attack committed to the Community College of Baltimore – Essex last week, then helped Penncrest finish a magical season by winning the PIAA championship with a 12-7 win over Avon Grove.
Kinnard, who scored and played one of the best games of his career in the title game is capable of playing at a high level of lacrosse, but he’s got business to take care of first.
“My grades weren’t good enough to get into a lot of schools that I wanted to go to,” he explained. “Essex first reached out to me after the NXT Senior Showcase, then they reached out to me not too long ago. I went down for a visit and really liked it.”
The Knights have claimed a pair of NJCAA national championships and have proven to be an elite team amidst the JUCO ranks, so Kinnard will be afforded an opportunity to play high-level lacrosse and a fresh slate to work on his grades. To him, it was the best of both worlds.
“I didn’t realize I would go JUCO until they contacted me,” said Kinnard, who also had interest in Alvernia, Neumann and Immaculata. “I wanted to play lacrosse at the next level and it’s competitive, so this can open a lot of doors for me. I’m just trying to boost my GPA and the location is perfect. It’s about an hour and a half away, so it’s great.”
Kinnard, who wants to study business, isn’t quite sure of whether he’ll stay at Essex for one or two years. That depends on how long it takes for him to improve his grades to the level he wants them at, but either way, he’ll have a chance to contribute right away.
Just a few days after his commitment, Kinnard and Penncrest were on top of the PIAA lacrosse world. There were high expectations coming into the season, expectations that were raised even higher when the Lions started off 19-0 before finally losing in the District One tournament.
Yet all season, there always naysayers who deemed Penncrest as not good enough to win the state title. Those claims were compounded by the Lions’ first loss, a 9-5 defeat against Springfield, but Kinnard and Penncrest persevered until they celebrated on the Hersheypark Stadium turf Saturday.
“It was awesome,” Kinnard said. “We knew we had a chance in the beginning, but when it finally happened, it was the best feeling ever.”
State title? Check. Future locked up? Check. Life’s pretty good for Billy Kinnard right about now.
Pierre Atkinson initially had his eyes and heart set on claiming Inter-Ac championships and competing for Inter-Ac Invitational titles at the end of the season.
As a freshman, Atkinson attended Malvern Prep, where his brother, Russ, graduated from before moving on to the United States Naval Academy. Ultimately, though, Atkinson decided that he wanted something different, so he opted to transfer to Conestoga. It seemed like the decision paid off.
"It was the perfect fit for me," explained Atkinson, who played for NXT 2014. "I got to play and I got to win state championships, so it was great."
Can't ask for much more than that, really, and finally, as a senior, he ended up finding a place to continue his education at when he chose Ursinus College. Like his brother, Atkinson had an eye on Navy and the Coast Guard. However, he later decided to move away from the armed forces and to a more traditional college lifestyle.